Canada's Lina Niu tops 578-entry WPT Ladies World Championship

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: December 20, 2022 12:58 PST

Canadian poker player Lina Niu has earned the largest payday of her poker career by triumphing in the World Poker Tour's WPT Ladies World Championship, held at the Wynn in Las Vegas. Niu, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, triumphed over a star-laced final table to collect the $105,136 winner's payday, which was nearly seven times her total recorded tournament earnings prior to this week.

Niu, 38, is a full-time business owner and plays poker as a hobby, but you couldn't prove that by this event's results. Niu came to the six-player final with the chip lead and battled Ukraine's Olga Iermolcheva for the lead throughout the live-streamed final, while the two most noted stars at the table, Kathy Liebert and Jamie Kerstetter, were the first to bust out of the final.

Kerstetter, a noted poker commentator and analyst who's been a part of ESPN's WSOP broadcast team in recent years, finished in sixth, while Liebert, a 2022 finalist for Poker Hall of Fame induction, added to a great WPT World Championship festival performance by finishing fifth.

After Cindy Spier busted in fourth and Dusti Smith departed in third, Niu and Iermolcheva faced off for the win. Niu held the chip lead when the final hand transpired. Niu opened to 450,000 with Ac-6c, and Iermolcheva moved all in with pocket nines. Niu called and found herself needing an ace or other help to secure the win, and that's how it played out. Ielmolcheva was in great shape after a Kh-6d-4s flop, though Niu picked up extra outs with the paired six. The turn, though was the Ad, giving Niu two pair and the lead, and a 5h river sent the chips and the title Niu's way.

"Today’s been a roller coaster for sure," Niu told the WPT's Lance Bradley after the win. "I started off with the chip lead, lost a lot early on and played super tight, got really lucky in some all-in spots. Just got super lucky on the last hand too."

Niu plays mostly cash games, including a lot of PLO, when she can find the time. Playing in a ladies-only NLHE event is a much more rare happening. "I’ve only played the WSOP Ladies event twice; this is my third (ladies tournament)," she told Bradley. "Honestly, I don’t have that much experience in tournament poker; I just love it. I thought I’d take a shot in it."

Niu received a Rockstar cabin package from Virgin Voyages, valued at $8,000, along with her winning payday. The other five finalists also received cruise packages from Virgin, valued at $2,800 each.

Final-table results:

  1. Lina Niu - $105,136
  2. Olga Iermolcheva - $70,008
  3. Dusti Smith - $51,538
  4. Cindy Spier - $38,350
  5. Kathy Liebert - $28,847
  6. Jamie Kerstetter - $21,934

Other top finishers included Louise Francoeur (seventh), J.J. Liu (ninth), Katie Lindsay (12th), and Amanda Botfeld (20th).

Featured image source: World Poker Tour